At about 4:30 AM we received a call from the hospital that dad’s heartbeat had become erratic.
My mom went in immediately. I waited until 6, woke my sister, and brought us both in.
Around seven o’clock, a priest arrived from the Cathedral. He gave dad the Anointing of the Sick.
At 8:30 I went back to the house and returned with my girlfriend.
Noon saw a hospice nurse talk to. Unlike the neurologists and the intensive care nurses, who were consistently helpful, informative, caring, and nice, the hospice worker revealed neither competence, nor intelligence, nor honesty. Care which she described as “identical” turned out to be not at all identical (apparently in her mind, having a nurse check in every ten minutes and having a nurse check in every twenty-four hours comprise identical care). Likewise, her view on treatment of pain is too infuriating to write at this time.
Our meeting was interrupted, however, as dad’s heart rate became less stable. As we stood and sat around him, we told stories and spoke our love for him. While dad’s body failed, the “recovery” I have written about (I, II, III, IV, V) continued, and dad entered a persistent vegetative state. The space between breathes grew from twenty seconds, to thirty, to forty. (I counted.)
The clock reached one. It was two weeks to the minute since we spoke on the cell phone.
Then there was the last breath.